In recent years, thanks to the Internet and some newfound online friends, I learned that July is Disability Pride month. In the past, I joined in the celebration virtually via social media. Participating online was a great and easily accessible way for me to celebrate with my friends as proud disabled people. I learned about current issues and those who came before us in our fight for change.
This year, for Disability Pride Month, I was invited to attend an in-person Disability Pride event as a guest speaker. The event was hosted by the local chapter for Disability Rights of Maine (I will refer to them as DRM). I was asked to speak about who I am and what I do through social media and my future plans, as well as who I am as a person. I was nervous about attending this event for the first time and speaking!
When I arrived, I was greeted by a wonderfully painted mural hanging up by the entrance. This was a really cool sight to see and set an awesome atmosphere. Approaching the outdoor open venue, we were greeted by another awesome painting, this one being the statue of liberty sitting in a wheelchair (This one was my favorite!)
I got to meet some of the amazing people at DRM who I have had the pleasure of getting to work with/know a bit when we went into the outdoor sitting area. It was so awesome getting to meet some of the amazing people at DRM in person! I was also able to hang out with my good friend Brian (pictured with me) who I met at a local summer camp here in Maine. It’s been a while since we ‘ve seen each other, and getting to spend time with him at this event made it all the better!
Before I did my speech, I was asked to do an interview for a local news outlet. This part was a bit scary. Seeing a few other attendees speaking in front of the camera and seeing how confident and proud they were helped me feel more confident for when my turn happened!
We had an awesome little rally, where multiple people went up to the mic and spoke. I really loved what the director for DRM had to say about her life experience and other things. It was empowering. A few others who ran or helped out local organizations spoke as well. The whole vibe of the event was awesome. I also took a turn at speaking into the mic. It was my first time speaking in front of an in-person audience that consisted of individuals who are actively working towards change, allies, and other people with disabilities.
It felt so nice and really encouraging to be in a place where people of the same mindset, that “we are worthy,” came together to share their stories. My first Disability Pride event was… awesome. I left the event feeling very empowered, ready to take initiative on working towards positive change and in a great mood. I got to make some new friends at the event as well, friends who I hope to see again in the future! I plan to attend all future Disability Pride events that the wonderful people at DRM and other organizations host, and possibly expand my horizons further! I am extremely glad that I accepted the invite to the event. It made the entire month of July for me. This experience is one that I treasure, and I plan to spread the word about next year’s event to my friends!
About Chrysanthemum Chan: Chrysanthemum is an award-winning cosplayer and Quantum brand ambassador. She enjoys fashion, cosplay and music and has a TikTok channel with over 380,000 followers. Click here to learn more about Chrysanthemum.